One of Hollywood’s Golden Age legends has been glorified in a Google Doodle.
The Doodle depicts Marlene Dietrich, famous for her breakout 1930 role as cabaret singer Lola-Lola in Germany’s first talking picture, Der Blaue Engel, and who was born on this day in 1901 — that’s 116 years ago.
Illustrated by artist Sasha Steinberg (also known as drag queen Sasha Velour and winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9), the Doodle shows Dietrich performing in a gender-bending top hat and tuxedo, worn in her Hollywood debut role as nightclub dancer Amy Jolly in 1930’s Morocco.
According to Google, Steinberg counts Dietrich, who subverted gender norms on screen and off, as a major influence on her alter-ego Velour.
“She was a wild original!” said Velour in a statement. “Despite the pressures of the time, she followed her own course, especially in terms of politics and gender. As a drag queen, that’s particularly inspiring to me. Plus, she just had this power to her…in every role she’s mysterious and strong, brilliant. That’s what I aspire to be when I step on the stage.”
Velour even dressed up as Dietrich in Season 9 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race for the show’s celebrity impersonation challenge, Snatch Game.
Here are a few early sketches by Velour for the Google Doodle:
Aside from her iconic role in Der Blaue Engel, Dietrich (born in Berlin as Maria Magdalene Dietrich) worked with the film’s director Josef von Sternberg in a string of Hollywood films, including Morocco, Shanghai Express, and The Devil Is a Woman.
After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1939, she entertained WWI troops and earned the the U.S. Medal of Freedom and French Légion d’Honneur.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Google published a Doodle in India to celebrated one of Urdu literature’s iconic poets, Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, known most commonly as Ghalib (meaning conqueror). It would be his 220th birthday on this date.
Happy birthday, Dietrich and Ghalib!
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